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Subject: Fines and/or other enforcement tools?
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Author Messages
DanH15
(Maryland)

Posts:1


01/08/2019 6:24 PM  
My BOD is currently looking into new tools or methods to help with the enforcement of home repairs. Two times a year the homes are inspected and any homes in need of repair are sent violation letters. Violations would include things like missing shutters, a fence section that has fallen over, missing deck railing, etc.. We reinspect and then send reminder letters that threaten legal action but never follow thru..

We are looking for other enforcement options. Im just looking to find out what everyone else is doing to help nudge homeowners to address those violations.

Fines have been discussed. Are there other options or methods any of you would like to share?

This is a townhome community in Maryland.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:7813


01/08/2019 8:04 PM  
I am not exactly sure the HOA is in the business of enforcing home repairs per say. That would be determined in the CC&R's. As would if your HOA can fine. If it can fine, then a fining schedule would have to be established and known to all members. Fining schedule is like saying : Garbage left out on Friday is a $25 fine etc...

Our HOA we did not fine. What did is if you did not fix the issue, we would send you a notice to fix it or we will pay for the repair sending you the bill. If you did not pay that bill, we would then lien the member for that bill. Which a lien could include additional expenses like interest, collection expenses, and filing fees.

Fines are typically can not be used for the basis of liens or foreclosures. (There's ways around it but I think it's wrong). Lawsuits are not a good idea. They hold no real power. A person can be sued and move never paying a dime. A lien they can't sell till it's paid off. Foreclosure just stops the bleeding.

So find out a few details like if your HOA is allowed to fine or repair definitions. Ours was more like painting, windows, and exterior appearances. Fences we did not own but one had permissions to install.

Former HOA President
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6045


01/09/2019 8:32 AM  
IF your governing documents permit it, Dan, your board CAN pay to repair issues that Owners fail to repair within xx days after proper notice has been given to them, and then bill them for the work. If your docs don't say this, you probably may not pay for the repairs and then bill them.

IF your docs permit it, your board can withhold privileges f like using common area amenities if you have any worth withholding.

Finally, you can set up a fine schedule if your docs and state permit it.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6045


01/09/2019 8:32 AM  
IF your governing documents permit it, Dan, your board CAN pay to repair issues that Owners fail to repair within xx days after proper notice has been given to them, and then bill them for the work. If your docs don't say this, you probably may not pay for the repairs and then bill them.

IF your docs permit it, your board can withhold privileges f like using common area amenities if you have any worth withholding.

Finally, you can set up a fine schedule if your docs and state permit it.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7927


01/09/2019 9:14 AM  
Dan

You have to consult your docs to see if fining is allowed. If it is then you have to set up a fine schedule. Both amounts of and timing of. Then begin to fine. First notice should be the threat of a fine if not repaired/cleaned up in a given amount of time. Allow them the opportunity to correct the situation first.

Yes most associations can fix the problem then bill the owner. That assumes some hot headed owner did not shoot the person entering his property. Stay far, far, far away from taking this action.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:116


01/09/2019 9:21 AM  
Self-correction (fixing the problem and billing the owner for it) is a minefield. I don't have any vendors who will work on an occupied home - they don't want to face an ugly (sometimes armed) confrontation with an owner.

If you do have the authority to fine, check with your state statutes to see if you can lien for fines. In my state we can't, so as long as owners stay current on assessments, those fines sit there until they want to sell or refinance.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2349


01/10/2019 7:37 AM  
As you can see, it doesn’t work to simply send a letter without any follow up (other than another letter) – letter two threatened legal action, so why didn’t the board do what it said? Sometimes suing a few people is what’s necessary to send a message.

Has anyone explained to the board why they haven’t made these repairs? In some cases, there may be money issues. Is there language in your documents (e.g. CCRs) that address areas that are the homeowner’s responsibility and how they are to maintain them (e.g. fences may not have missing panels)? That could be another reason you’re being ignored.

As others have said, you’ll need to verify if you can fine – if you can, you probably won’t be able to apply them retroactively. You should have an appeals process to go along with the fining, and send a notice of all this to the homeowners with an effective date (30-45 days from the date of the letter will suffice). Make sure you address all this in an OPEN board meeting with motions made to adopt a fee schedule, establish the appeals process, etc.

After that, start your enforcement, perhaps giving people 3 months to fix this stuff once and for all. Remind everyone that houses that aren’t kept in good report can ultimately hurt property values and cost more money when you have no choice but to repair whatever’s been ignored. Finally, prepare for fireworks – some people will cuss and threaten to sue, which is why you need to stand your ground, but be fair and consistent. Do your homework first and establish this policy in a way that it’ll stand up in court (talk to your attorney for guidance, if necessary). Enjoy!
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16092


01/12/2019 1:51 PM  
Dan,

The problem appears to be lack of follow through. Failure to take legal action after claiming you would tells the membership that the threats from the Board mean nothing.


I am also in a town home community. We have minimized our issue (and we only do inspections once per year)by trying to be realistic with our expectations. What I mean is that we give a good time frame for things to get done before we put the issue into a violation status. Example:

Concern: Any issue the inspector sees that may become an issue in the future (I used it to identify a mouse hole the owner might not be aware of) Note: the issue may or may not become an actual violation.

Maintenance Required (must be repaired by next inspection): Painting of home, roof replacement, etc. Basically any large ticket item that might require time to schedule and funding to complete.

Violation (30 days to fix): any item identified as maintenance required on previous inspection and still exists, paint on railings, personal items left out in front of home, etc.


We publish when the inspections will begin and, when necessary, the issue goes in front of the Board which imposes monetary penalties (but these are usually waived if repairs are completed by a specific date).
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16092


01/12/2019 1:52 PM  
Dan,

As others have posted, the problem appears to be lack of follow through. Failure to take legal action after claiming you would tells the membership that the threats from the Board mean nothing.


I am also in a town home community. We have minimized our issue (and we only do inspections once per year)by trying to be realistic with our expectations. What I mean is that we give a good time frame for things to get done before we put the issue into a violation status. Example:

Concern: Any issue the inspector sees that may become an issue in the future (I used it to identify a mouse hole the owner might not be aware of) Note: the issue may or may not become an actual violation.

Maintenance Required (must be repaired by next inspection): Painting of home, roof replacement, etc. Basically any large ticket item that might require time to schedule and funding to complete.

Violation (30 days to fix): any item identified as maintenance required on previous inspection and still exists, paint on railings, personal items left out in front of home, etc.


We publish when the inspections will begin and, when necessary, the issue goes in front of the Board which imposes monetary penalties (but these are usually waived if repairs are completed by a specific date).
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